“The Choice”



Do you really need to read a review of this movie? It’s based on a Nicholas Sparks book so you can probably guess the plot without ever having to set foot in a theater. All of the usual suspects are here: star-crossed lovers, a whirlwind romance, a country carnival scene, lots of rain, two guys fighting over a girl, people staring longingly at a fake celestial backdrop and more than a half dozen close-ups of single tears running down someone’s cheek. Let’s not forget that something ridiculous happens late in the third act (because of course it does), but awwwww, it made the women in my theater reach for their hankies. Isn’t that why people buy tickets to this junk in the first place?

It’s a formula that was built on the foundations of tried-and-true women’s movie of the week diversions from the manipulating masters at Lifetime or the Hallmark Channel. This isn’t smart entertainment, it’s an emotional outlet for lonelyhearts or those who just need a good cry.

You can bet when something is mentioned early in the film it will come into play later. For example, a big deal is made out of the fact that a guy has only one chair in his yard — which according to the female love interest means that he wants to live alone. Wouldn’t you know it, once she decides to have dinner with him, he goes out and gets another chair! And then — wait for it — she SITS IN IT next to him! Wow, I didn’t see THAT coming!

I’m always bugged by these types of movies because women are portrayed as having zero integrity when it comes to their own relationships. Why is it that “out of sight, out of mind” always seems to be a huge plot point? The second their long time loves leave town, they fall in love with the nearest guy in the vicinity. The new guy is always their true soul mate (groan). I was bothered by the brief mention that the male love interest was an atheist, and it was implied that this was because he must be mad at God. While not discussed at length in the movie, this is a ridiculous notion that I’m seeing in a lot of movies lately.

I enjoyed the coastal North Carolina setting, an area where I grew up and a place that holds many fond memories for me. It doesn’t take much to make that part of the country look sun soaked and gorgeous, and it’s the better star of this movie. The characters are burdened with such stereotypical characteristics (beer swillin’, barbecue cookin’, church goin’ pickup truck drivin’ good ole boys) that you can’t take them seriously. It doesn’t help that the Southern accents are horribly inaccurate across the board. Luckily there’s plenty of believable chemistry between the two leads (Teresa Palmer and Benjamin Walker, doing their best with the lousy material), and there’s enough semi-compelling situations to keep viewers interested.

If you are considering going to another weepie based on a Nicholas Sparks book, then this movie will give you exactly what you expect and desire. It delivers what it sets out to do, so for that it isn’t a total failure.

Matt was unavailable for review.

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